Fair Go: Spark apologises for nine-month landline run-around

Spark NZ has apologised and promised to do better for a Hawke’s Bay customer who spent close to nine months trying to get the telco to fix a fault with his home phone.

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Alan Limmer is understandably cross, and so were the lines of communication with telco giant Spark. Source: Fair Go

"It's been escalated a lot of times. I think they've probably run out of floors,” Alan Limmer tells Fair Go.

After Fair Go took this up with Spark NZ, the fault turns out to be a problem with the way Dr Limmer’s wireless home line has been provisioned – or set up on Spark’s system.

Spark staff replaced his phone and modem twice, but made the same mistake a second time, which compounded the problem making the home phone even less likely to call out or be called.

"You never actually know when it's going to work and you can be making a call and suddenly it just chops you off and other times you just can't call," Dr Limmer tells Fair Go.

He estimates making 50 calls to Spark’s contact centre which were fruitless. He'd make no progress and often repeat what the problem was each time to a new person.

Online chat also failed when the staffer replying to Alan didn’t follow up later as promised.

Spark has a dedicated complex issues team, but Alan found its advice simplistic and generic.

A staffer suggested he needed to dial the area code on all numbers; something he already does.

Spark NZ was apologetic and volunteered to appear on Fair Go to own up and explain.

"Unfortunately, we dropped the ball," says Spark NZ Customer Director Grant McBeath, who has also called Dr Limmer on his home phone to apologise, now the line works again.

Mr McBeath says Spark has more than 2 million customers and handles more than 20,000 interactions a day.

"We don't get them all right; sometimes we get them wrong. The processes are pretty sound. Unfortunately, this was individual error."

He added that Spark was going through each of Dr Limmer's calls, chats and his visits to its store to make sure each of the staff involved have the proper training and stick to it.

"Thankfully Fair Go got involved which meant we remedied the issue in about three hours and that's how long it should take if the correct process is followed," Mr McBeath says.

Dr Limmer declined a refund for the months he was overbilled for a faulty service. Spark NZ has instead upped the figure to $2000 and is donating on Alan Limmer’s behalf to Cranford Hospice.